No matter how you slice it, cool down this summer with watermelon

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QUICKREAD

FOOD



It has been said, “There’s nothing more American than apple pie in the fall, Palisade peach pie in August, pumpkin pie in November and watermelon on a hot July Day.” OK, I may have embellished that statement a bit. However, those triple-digit June days brought visions of ice cold, red, juicy watermelon, even before the expected hot July, sending us out in search of our first of the season, summertime treat. If that didn’t get you into watermelon mode, the Fourth of July weekend brought the rest of you out to enjoy the holiday tradition of having your first 2016 melon. What would summer be without cookouts/picnics and watermelon juice running down your chin? 

When dating a young Fred Burmeister, I soon learned that he could survive those hot, humid Midwest days of summer by consuming large amounts of the topic of this column. I do have to admit, after all these years and all those watermelons, you’d think he and I could select the perfect melon every time. But alas, we’ve discovered that we are joined by many in selecting a not-so-perfect melon once in a while (OK for us, more than once). But checking out the world of watermelon at watermelon.org and surfing the internet, along with a bit of experimentation on my part, I found that watermelon ideas abound, from how to pick them out, to cutting and serving them, to recipes for each meal of the day and appetizers, beverages and snacks. I found suggestions for using those perfect melons, as well as those occasional, not-so-perfect ones. 

It was then I got an idea! What’s more American than our county fair this month? Why not invite our 2016 Mesa County Fair Ambassadors to be my testers of perhaps unusual watermelon delights. Last week, Kayla Bryan, Garret Dupper, Tanner Mitchell, Gunnar Mort and Taylor Rubalcaba, five of the eight Mesa County Fair Ambassadors, gathered in my kitchen. What a group! They were truly adventurous and brave to try unusual dishes. So much for teens’ reputation for not wanting to try anything!

The missing three ambassadors, Ashley Teal, Svea Alisha, and Lexie Linwood, will be back in town this week, to join the rest, in conducting all the ambassador jobs, including their daily contests, one of which will be, a watermelon eating contest!  Meet them all at the Mesa County Fair, July 12-16! Take a look at what we tried and what was said about the dishes. Thanks to watermelon.org for sharing their recipes.

I did get some strange and questioning looks from the group, when serving up the recipes below.

Some tips and facts about watermelon:

• Don’t throw away overripe or underripe watermelon. Blend it in a blender for refreshing drinks and dishes. Freeze what you can’t use.

• Watermelon is more than just a great treat; at only 80 calories in two cups, it has good levels of vitamins A and C and vitamin B6. It’s known for its lycopene content, the pigment that gives it the red color. Dietitians recommend lycopene vegetables and fruits as part of a healthy diet that may help fight heart disease.

• Watermelon’s high water content helps keep us hydrated!

• Add watermelon to both green and fruit salads with a mixture of a little bit of honey and a little bit of lime juice.

The Mesa County Fair Ambassadors and I will see you at the Mesa County Fair next week. We’d like to remind you that local melons will soon appear, so it’s time to open up your taste buds to the watermelon possibilities. May all your watermelons be sweet!


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